Monday, December 10, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
And here, just for kicks, is a picture of the furry child on Thanksgiving, doing one of the things that he likes best (can you tell?). This photo serves double duty, showing as it does, one cute dog and the horse jump over which his human was thrown in the little flub that resulted in two cracked ribs. Fun, huh? P.S. It's taller than it looks!
Monday, December 3, 2007
Boy, what a grey week. These blocks are my contribution for week 3 of crazy mom quilts' fall quilt-along. The grey skies and plummeting temperatures are definitely reflected in these photos-- it was tough to get any kind of true colors at all this week.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The rig: 1991 Trailet New Yorker hooked to 1996 full-size Ford Bronco by way of a fancy load-levelling hitch.
Average number of minutes spent in rig on the way to a meet, round trip: 50 minutes.
Percentage of words I know by heart: 100.
I remember this tape, and even though I can't see it since it's stuck in the machine, I know that it's a pink and yellow plastic thing that used to be a mix of Disney songs given to me by my childhood friend Marion one Christmas. This is probably why I can hear a few bars of The Aristocats in the middle of that last track. I used to record over things all the time.
It's funny how this tape makes me remember exactly how I felt in the summer of '98. I only know that it was 1998 because that's the year that Emmet Swimming record came out--I had to look it up. They played that Sunblock song every morning that summer as bumper music for The Bob and Madison Showgram (back when it was still the Bob and Madison Showgram), and Margaret and I had that temporary job out in RTP alphabetizing all day in a windowless room packed with aisle upon aisle of grey metal filing cabinets. We got the job through ManPower, where either Katherine or Elizabeth worked, and we tried to get there as early as we could each morning, like 7:30, so that we could leave early to beat the traffic coming home. I remember that felt so early and so grown-up.
I guess not all of the songs are so embarrassing. But they feel half a world away from this dirt road.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
And here's the progress chart. Those are tiny wee little pieces of each of the fabrics I've used for the various blocks, glued on to the mock-up from the DJ computer program. They allow me to see at a glance which fabrics I've used, and to make sure that nothing looks too strange. Also it's a good motivation to see all those little squares filling in as I finish blocks.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I have joined AmandaJean's fall quilt-along over at Crazy Mom Quilts. The first block was great fun, and a good contrast from the tiny Dear Jane blocks that I've been working on over the past few months. These blocks came out 12.5" square. My thinking about the color scheme goes like this:
You know that moment in the spring when you step into the woods and suddenly everything is green? And it feels like a surprise because you could have sworn you were just there yesterday and all the trees and paths were grey and dead-looking? Well, for me there's a moment like that in the fall, too.
It usually happens after the first really good, really cold autumn rain storm around here-- the first day after the first really cold, wet night, when all the leaves are guaranteed to be changing. I was walking the pup in the park near our house last week, and the timing was perfect. I looked up to see slick, dark grey tree trunks broken up by bright yellow and orange and green leaves. And again, that autumn light, so clear and sharp, the light that makes the colors glow.
Up until now, all of my quilts (and I use the term loosely, as I'm much more interested in the patchwork than the quilting... I'll let you make of that what you will) have had light backgrounds, or have been so scrappy that their general value came out somewhere in the middle. So I was excited to try something with a dark background. The charcoal grey color is actually truer in the first photo, paired with the green batik, but it's interesting how the different contrast colors can play with our (and the camera's) perception of the grey. I'll use all batiks, in greens and golds and oranges, with a few reds and dark blues thrown in as the accent colors. I'm going to make two of each square in the quilt-along, in the hope that I'll come out with a queen-sized sampler quilt.
I'm hoping that I can capture some of that magic that I feel walking into that wet and bright leafy woods each fall.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
In the summer, you're never alone. Birds sing, bees buzz, grasshoppers jump out of the field ahead of you as you walk. The sun is there when you wake up, and with you as you eat dinner on the porch.
Then there's fall. It's windy and the trees seem awfully alive. Raining leaves down on you as you walk under their branches, or dropping them all on the ground in a neat circle while you aren't looking, a discarded summer ball gown.
But winter comes before you know it's here. The clouds get all dramatic and the sky's no longer bright-- now each color you see is tinged with grey. And you're alone. The living things are hibernating underground or underwater, and the wind whips down the lanes moving nothing but the rattling bare tree branches. It's quiet in a way that's unimaginable in the other seasons, and the air is cold in your lungs.
When you walk out into a frozen field full of cows, you feel like the only living thing around even though the cows are there. They are saving up, and they stare quietly at you, willing you not to break the silence. Not wondering who you are. But you know. You are you on ice. You distilled into only you and you alone. Facing the wind and the bright cold sun that will soon set.
I took this photo last weekend. There's a bald eagle that usually sits in a dead tree just out of this frame to the left. When we got out of our cars to take his picture, he took wing and flew across the lake, slow and swoopy and showing off. This photo was an attempt to catch him in flight, but you can see that he's not there.
This seems like one of those pictures that rich people in New York City would blow up really big on one wall of the bathroom in their tiny million dollar apartment. I wish I could reproduce it larger in this space. But look into the eyes of that longhorn in the middle. The only longhorn left after the others were auctioned off. She must have hidden somewhere on market day, when everybody else was rounded up. But that was months ago. And she's still here-- waiting for winter. Bring it on. Look into her eyes. She knows. And somehow this picture lets me know, too, in a way that standing there didn't. The sky and her stare tell me that the lonely ice is just around the corner. She's cool and clear as ice, and I can be, too. I'm ready to find myself again in that cold quiet.
(P.S. I know that I'm talking about the seasons a lot lately, but you'll have to indulge me. It feels like we're at a tipping point here-- things are really changing.)
Monday, November 12, 2007
Brown nubbly wool as a Christmas present-to-be.And cheery red dots as Dear Jane B-6 Wild Goose Chase. Even the name of this block sounds like fall.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
So this has been a week of quiet mending: the antique pillowcases that are so soft but are starting to get a few small holes, the old fences at the farm that always seem to start to fall apart with the softening of the ground in preparation for winter's freeze. And now my rib. I imagine it slowly knitting back together inside my back, as I knit together the holes in last winter's handknit socks, sitting on the sofa in the only comfortable position I can find.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
When I was in Raleigh a couple of weekends ago, my mom gave me these lovely cathedral window pillows, made by her grandmother Mimi (did I spell that right, Mom?). Mimi instilled in my mother the same creative, make-your-own spirit that my mom passed on to me. Although they need some tacking down in a couple of places, I love these pillows (and all the vintage fabrics!) and the way that they make the living room even cozier, just in time for the cooler months.
This batch is double-sided-- just look at all the cool fabrics on this side alone!
On another textile note, while I was in NC, my mom and I visited Thimble Pleasures in nearby Carrboro. As I was flitting around the very nice store, a silver-haired man wearing a neon purple polo shirt came in and started pulling bolts of large scale realistic fruit and vegetable prints. Bright red watermelons and tomatoes, shocking green peas and hot pink blooms. I did a double-take-- turns out it was Kaffe Fassett, in town to teach a seminar in the shop. I get a little overwhelmed when I run into famous people, no matter who they are, but this chance encounter was pretty cool. I didn't introduce myself or anything, but it was interesting seeing him select fabric, pulling bolt after bolt from the shelf. The energy in his quilts definitely seems to be a reflection of himself.
Top two revelations from this trip to the quilt store: 1) Man, the good thread makes a difference, both in the machine (so smooth!) and when quilting by hand; and 2) Good marking tools actually do exist.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
This is the winning cake-decorating design in the non-wedding category. Every decoration on that thing seemed to be made of fondant and/or icing except for the measuring tape around the base-- this includes the embroidery thread and regular thread and all the fabric and notions. Very impressive in person.
I also really liked this cascading cake. What fun-- so free, unlike most of the cakes there! You can't really see the silver dragees on the end of each pendant in this photo, but it was really a magical cake. Too bad fondant tastes so bad. The crafty entries (cakes, garment sewing, quilts, crochet) are some of my favorite parts of the fair, along with the animals and the (terrible but wonderful!) food.
The Mt. Olive Pickle people set up shop in the same group of buildings as the crafts, and we always enjoy a 50 cent kosher dill. After the yummy dill there was a pulled pork barbeque sandwich at one of the church booths and ice cream churned by John Deere motors near the Village of Yesteryear.
That Village is great fun. It's a group of "traditional" crafters supported by the NC Department of Agriculture for over 50 years. The members wear pioneer-type clothing and demonstrate and display their old-timey crafts like woodcarving, soap-making, furniture making, weaving. This guy's realistic decoys went for $7000 apiece-- so beautiful. Plus, he probably makes enough money at the fair to take it easy for awhile. I'm so sorry I missed out on the hand-braided rugs made by Virginia Boone-- they were all sold (well, except for an ugly purple one) when we got there. She had a beautiful gold and tan one with brown tweeds and red that I would have loved to bring home for my craft area. I hope she'll still be alive next year. And the animals. We saw bunnies and some amazing geese and turkeys, ducks and chickens (such plumage!), cows with their sprayed-up mohawks and goats playing king of the mountain on piles of straw. My one regret is that since this was the last weekend of the fair the pigs had all gone home. Too bad-- their beady little eyes always seem to be trying to tell me something important.
Friday, October 19, 2007
We met yesterday morning at Oakland Green, just up the road from the farm, and so I got to hack to the meet. Usually hacking to the meet is beneficial since it uses up most of the horse's nervous energy, but with Josh it's a little tricky because he's so spooky. Nevertheless, we made it to the meet in the mist in time for the 8 o'clock start. Unfortunately, Oakland Green's spring recently ran dry (Rain! Come on!), and so we met across the road from the house in a nice open cow field.
Since this meet is so close to our farm, I'm pretty familiar with this territory, which really opens up past Brown's bottom toward Lincoln. The huntsman cast down the hill toward the bottom, and (after a small delay while we waited for a friend to take a bathroom break in his trailer, and another, scarier delay when a deer bounding out of the woods just next to us misjudged the wire fence and jumped right into it, scaring all of the horses) we were off through the woods. In a flash we came out on the road behind the meet and joined up with Lincoln Road, where we had a full view of the fox, and then of the hounds doing some really good work to get on the scent on the Marshall place.
One neighbor and his horse were so winded after this first twenty-minute run that he and his daughter hacked in for the day (which I think she only agreed to do since she'll be out with Blue Ridge on Saturday). What a way to start the morning!
This great first run was followed by a few shorter gallops through the old Askari place, up and down a couple of doozie hills. Josh always does the same thing when we gallop through Askari's fields. Some old-timers say that certain horses can sense holes in the ground, whether by scent or change of moisture in the air. If this is true, then Josh is certainly one of those horses. Even when I avoid a real ankle-breaker of a hole with plenty of room, Josh will still jump over the place where a straight line from the hole would meet our path. Big, bouncy jumps-- I guess he thinks he's keeping us safe. No matter how many times we went through Askari's place in the same direction this morning (four), Josh jumped in the same spots, "avoiding" the same holes. He's crazy, but at least he's predictable.
Since it was so hot and my horse has yet to be clipped (a project for next week), we came in after about 90 minutes of hunting, and we hacked home. Still spooking all the way.
I'm off to visit my parents and their new dog this weekend, and hopefully to fit in a trip to the North Carolina State Fair. Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I was in my last year of college, and had had a bad fall off a lesson horse on the day of our sorority's pumpkin-picking/hay-ride date event. I wasn't much of a sorority person (or a college social person, really, but that's another story), and this was the only event all year that I actually looked forward to. We got to wear jeans and sit around campfires, no formal wear necessary. My boyfriend (now my husband, yay) had come into town to squire me to this function and then I couldn't walk, much less hay ride, and we spent the evening in the emergency room instead.
I was on crutches for at least a month after that, and couldn't drive, so I was stuck in my off-campus apartment a lot. My roommate and I were no longer getting along, and she had this horrible boyfriend who was always drunk and screaming and over at the apartment.
One afternoon while the roommate and her boyfriend were both in class, my mom drove over to the apartment with her little vintage Singer Featherweight and showed me how to make a log cabin block. We tore strips of lights and darks and mediums and sorted the groups into grocery bags, to be pulled at random as I sewed. I still remember which block I made first. I had used my mom's sewing machine before, to make little holiday gifts and pillowcases, and to repair my childhood security blanket. But this was the first time that I used sewing and quilting as meditation. What a calming thing (and what a gift). To see those perfect little off-white stitches line up, so straight and so strong.
My husband is going through a stressful time at work, spending a lot of time at the office, and so the pup and I have the evenings to ourselves these days. I'd really like to finish this quilt this fall, to translate the blocks' calming energy into something useful. A quilt to keep us warm and safe this winter. A soft calm to tuck into.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
I always have the best of intentions in sending people cards for their birthdays, but since I value the homemade birthday card, *and* I am a huge procrastinator, I never get around to it on time, and end up sending something on the day of their actual factual (is 'actual factual' like 'roti toati', as in slang that's only used in my family?-- anyway, it means on the big day itself-- use it in a sentence? hmm... "During her school years, Greta used to have her birthday party with friends on her half-birthday in January since her actual factual was in July."-- back to what was already a mess of a post) that doesn't get to them until a couple of days after their birthday.
I always hope that people will notice that the card was postmarked on their birthday, but I'm sure they don't.
So, long way around, but here's a new birthday card (one that I will have to tuck in with my mom's gift when I actually get it to her-- hint, her birthday was last month-- I'm terrible). I printed it up on the Gocco, but I messed up the master, so I'll need to photocopy the drawing and try again sometime soon. Until then, it looks better in this kind of far away, kind of noisy image than it does in real life.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
It was another 7:30 am meet yesterday morning from Burnleigh, a beautiful farm just past Foxcroft School on (surprise!) Foxcroft Road. The day's hunting is probably best described in a couple of vignettes:
Vignette 1, entitled, 'The drought is bad'. The ground was really hard with a very slick top layer of dry dust. My farrier put studs on Joshua's hind feet earlier this week to try to give him some more traction, even though studs are usually reserved for snow and ice. Yesterday, we had moved through a dry valley that's usually marshy bottomland, and the huntsman moved out across a wide creek. Our master rode down into the creek, and we rode downstream through the sandy earth that's usually under the water. It wasn't until we had ridden well down this 'sandbar' in the middle of the creek bed that I realized that we were in the same part of the creek where we had been forced to ford with our stirrups crossed over withers and our feet on the horses' shoulders last year around Christmas! So, the drought is bad. On the (very small) upside, the sandy soil in the bed of the creek was the best footing that we saw all day.
Vignette 2, entitled, 'Mr. Turkey'. About an hour after we set out, we came upon the cutest little farm setup that I've seen in a long while. A yellow stucco main house facing a small yard with mature trees and a small barn and tenant house. Old stone pillars were scattered in the yard and a couple of ponies watched the proceedings with guarded eyes from a paddock just behind the barn. We walked quietly between house and barn, listening with our field master for hound voices. Just as we snuck around the end of the barn, we heard a loud, "Gobgobblegobble!" (say it as fast as you can, and he was faster), and the most beautiful 25-pound turkey you've ever seen (just like this one) came out to let us know who was master of this barnyard. One of the ladies riding with us lives on this little farm and told us that this fine bird is bound for the Thanksgiving table. Our kennelman said, "We'll see what he has to say about that!" And we all laughed, but it really did seem as though the turkey might give his axman a run for his money. As we walked away from the barnyard, still straining to hear hounds, we heard the occasional "Gobgobblegobble," a good-riddance from our turkey friend.
All in all, not a terribly exciting day, but each and every person with whom we hunted yesterday was just delightful, and it was great fun to be outside in the air and the country. And one thing you can say about starting your day at 4 am is that it sure makes bedtime feel good.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Copyright Margaret Gibson, 2003
In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass
the autumn moon takes refuge
The cricket's song is gold
Zeshin's loneliness taught him this
Who is coming?
What will come to pass, and pass?
Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air
knows the way
And the moon?
Who among us does not wander, and flare
and bow to the ground?
Who does not savor, and stand open
if only in secret
taking heart in the ripening of the moon?
I don't know a lot about poet Margaret Gibson, but I chose this poem today because its tones (and the mysterious tones of the painting from which it draws inspiration) so perfectly convey the way that I feel as we slip into autumn, with winter just ahead.
On Saturday morning around 5 am as I was getting ready for hunting, the moon was so bright and near-full here that I didn't need a flashlight. But it also held that secret, slightly frightening edge, "ripening" in the autumn sky.
Somehow in the spring the moon seems soft and not as present. In the summer and fall we have the harvest moon, sometimes romantic, but warm and welcoming. In the winter, though, that moon takes on a different cast. Bright and grey behind clouds, the moon can be downright eerie shining on a winter landscape of sparkling fields of ice. In the winter the moon is lonely and cold and perfectly at home. The ice queen surveying (and shaping) her slick kingdom.
We're not quite there yet, but soon the end of autumn will come and the cricket's gold song will set and we will watch the cold silver moon of winter rise.